Just off of the Avenue of Puerto Rico in East Williamsburg, Caroline Hurley keeps a one room studio where she paints, prints textiles and generally plays with color. It was there that I visited her recently and not surprisingly, she was doing what she does of a lot of these days...packing boxes to ship to customers.
Hurley is a trained painter and graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She’s from Memphis originally, but did a stint in California and now lives in New York. The result? Design that feels part beach, part city. The thing she may be most well known for, for example, is a linen beach throw that feels, and works, just as well on a sofa.
That in essence is why I love Hurley’s work so much. City and beach don’t have to be alternate universes. They can coexist in design and function, which perfectly reflects my passion and pining for both, and it isn’t something you typically see. How she’s managed to marry the two is what makes her work so appealing.
Hurley’s textile business evolved naturally out of her painting. She was working various unfulfilling corporate jobs when a buyer for a shop spotted a necklace of hers that she made and asked her if she would produce them for retail. They were made of pasta, colorful and played off the DIY aesthetic. The necklaces did well and that eventually led to her desire to start printing textiles. “A lot of fine artists are scared of transferring into product but I don’t care,” she said. Thankfully so.
At first Hurley used potatoes to print her patterns, though now she uses linoleum blocks, and she’s also enlisted the help of a factory in New Bedford, MA.
As for how she got her work into more retail stores and advice for other designers? She said it was just a lot of hustle to start. “A lot of emailing,” she said. “A lot of showing up to places.”
Her work has been featured on numerous blogs and she says getting her throws and napkins into certain well-curated stores has been a huge help too.
“Once you’re in the right stores,” she said. “Then you’re kind of golden.”
What’s next for Hurley? She told me she wanted to develop some kind of product that would be more universally in demand. She also wants to do a full run of bed linens and such, which is pretty easy to see and I really hope that happens. But her big project is helping to create a factory that would do limited runs and cater to young designers. For now if she's not packing boxes in her studio, you might catch her at the beach.
You can visit her shop here.
And follow her on Instagram here.